By Marisa Moore, MBA. RDN. LD.
While you may be familiar with the digestive benefits of prunes, there are many other reasons to love this delicious fruit. With heart, gut and bone health benefits, California prunes are the perfect pick for snacking and enhancing your meals too!
What You Need to Know About Prunes
California Prunes are packed with nutrition. Just 4-5 prunes make a serving. Prunes are a good source of fiber and provide both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Prunes also offer potassium and polyphenols, which act as antioxidants. Plus, prunes deliver a whopping 20% of your daily value of vitamin K, which is important to keep blood clotting and bone metabolism functions working properly.
And all of this with no added sugar!
Why California Prunes?
You probably noticed that I’ve said California Prunes a lot. And there’s a good reason. The lush valleys of California and over 150 years of California grower expertise combine to produce some of the most flavorful, high quality and consistent fruit.
Luckily California Prunes are also easy to find. The state produces 99% of the prunes in the United States and over 40% globally.
Prunes and Gut Health
Though we link good gut health to digestion, mounting evidence suggests that gut health plays a major role in overall health. As a good source of sorbitol, soluble and insoluble fiber, and antioxidants, California Prunes can support good gut health.
Using prunes for regularity is a generations-long practice and there’s research to back it up.
In a clinical trial, prunes were a tasty and effective alternative to psyllium – the powder commonly found in regularity supplement powders – in relieving mild to moderate constipation. This is important since constipation is a common and uncomfortable condition.
Prunes may also act as a prebiotic (foods that nourish gut bacteria). In an animal experiment supported by the California Prune Board, prunes were thought to positively impact colon microbiota. This is promising since colon microbiota can impact disease prevention and treatment.
Now that you are familiar with some of the gut health benefits prunes may provide, here are some easy ways to incorporate them into your diet. Whether you are doing a plant-based or Mediterranean diet or no special diet at all, prunes can fit in!
Tips and Ways to Enjoy California Prunes
Prunes are an excellent natural sweetener that’s also low on the glycemic index. They can be enjoyed by all in many different ways.
- As a snack. Pack prunes in your purse or keep a stash at work for a sweet boost of energy during the day.
- As a sugar substitute. Blend prunes into your smoothie for natural sweetness and color without any added sugar.
- As a puree. Prune puree is a delicious, fiber-rich addition to baked goods like brownies and muffins. Here’s a tip: Blend 1⅓ cup pitted prunes with 6 tablespoons of hot water to make a batch of prune puree. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 month.
- As a meat extender. You might be surprised to learn that prunes can help stretch foods like ground meat or poultry. Adding prunes can help keep burgers juicy while adding a hint of sweetness and enhancing caramelization for even more flavor!
California Prune Pairings
Prunes are a fiber-rich and sweet addition to any plate – as an appetizer, snack or part of the main meal. The slightly earthy, sweet flavor goes well with lots of foods, including different proteins, grains, and baked goods. Prunes also add sweetness and chew to roasted vegetables and salads or include prune puree into sauces and dressings for a surprising burst of flavor.
Pair California Prunes with …
- Walnuts for a sweet and crunchy snack.
- Feta cheese for a sweet, salty, savory salad topper.
- Bitter greens for a fresh contrast in flavor.
- Dark chocolate for a deep, sweet and earthy treat.
And this is just a start! Get more flavor pairing ideas and recipes at California Prunes.
Marisa Moore, MBA. RDN. LD
Marisa Moore, MBA. RDN. LD is a trusted food and nutrition expert appearing regularly in national media outlets. Marisa has over ten years of experience working with clients to improve health outcomes in overall wellness, weight management, diabetes, high cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart disease. She also collaborates with the food and restaurant industry to develop and promote healthy recipes, food products, and campaigns. And most recently, she is excited to partner with like-minded organizations to help spread the great food and nutrition word via media and spokesperson work. Follow @MarisaMoore